The Air Forceâ€™s version of the F-35 has made its debut in Asia.
The Joint Strike Fighter touched down this week for South Koreaâ€™s Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition, known as Seoul ADEX 2017, the Air Force said.
The U.S. militaryâ€™s newest stealth fighter joins the F-22 Raptor, A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, B-1 Lancer, KC-135 Stratotanker, E-3 Sentry, U-2 Dragon Lady and RQ-4 Global Hawk, along with some Army and Navy aircraft, at the show, being held roughly 35 miles from North Koreaâ€™s border, the service said in a release on Friday.
The two F-35As from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, were accompanied by 27 maintainers, the release said.
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The F-35 will not perform any special maneuvers for the show, staying on static display only, according to an Air Force spokesman.
However, this yearâ€™s air show will feature demonstrations from Raptors assigned to the 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; an A-10 assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, South Korea; and a C-17 with the 15th Wing, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Pacific Air Forces officials said.
“Support to air shows and other regional events allows the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to the stability and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of military operations,” PacAF said in a separate release.
ADEX concludes Oct. 22, but it is unclear if the Pentagonâ€™s most lethal jet will stick around for operational exercises with Pacific allies.
In August, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the F-35A is ready and poised to go to the Pacific — or any theater, for that matter — should tensions escalate with North Korea.
“We now just passed 100,000 flying hours with the F-35, and it is doing very well. And in any contingency, if there were a problem, theyâ€™re ready to go — ready to go to combat,” Wilson told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.
While the Air Force hasnâ€™t yet flown the F-35A in operational exercises, the Marine Corps this year deployed a squadron of F-35Bs to Iwakuni, Japan, which on Aug. 31 flew alongside B-1B Lancer bombers and both Japanese and South Korean F-15 fighters in a show of force to North Korea.
In April, the Air Force dispatched a handful of F-35As overseas to Europe for several weeks in the aircraftâ€™s first training deployment to the continent.